Telling your kids that you’re getting a divorce can be one of the
most difficult discussions you ever have. Most parents worry about how
their children will take the news, whether they’ll be angry, sad,
or a combination of the two. You might also worry about what you can say
to offer comfort and love. The process will undoubtedly be difficult,
for both you and your children, so going into the discussion with open
eyes will help significantly. That being said, there are a few things
you can do to make the conversation go as smoothly as possible.
When you break the news of your divorce to your children, try following
these helpful tips:
Tell All of Your Kids Together
Some parents might contemplate telling their children separately, especially
if there is a large age gap, but telling your kids together might be the
better option. If you tell one before the other, the child who knows might
feel isolated and alone in his or her emotions, making it more difficult
to process the new information. This could also create a division between
your children. Telling them all at once, however, will allow them to comfort
one another and lean on one another later when the news sinks in and questions
and concerns begin to surface.
Open the Discussion to the Family
Encourage your children to voice any questions or concerns. For some kids,
it may take a moment for the news to sink in and they might not have anything
to say right away. Other children, usually younger ones, might need immediate
reassurance and could have dozens of questions right off the bat. Either
way, make sure your children understand that they can communicate these
concerns to you or their other parent. The way you handle this first conversation
could set the tone for how your divorce is handled from now on, so make
sure your children know that their opinions are welcome.
Focus on the Important Things
Your kids don’t need to know every detail about your divorce or the
process to come, at least not away, and especially not if they are young.
Start off with the most crucial information and work your way onward from
there. If your children have questions that you aren’t ready to
answer, tell them so. Make sure you are open with them, but also remember
that some things may take time to discuss and not everything needs to
be hashed out in this first conversation.
Also, remind them of the most important things, the fact that both you
and your spouse love them. Tell them that even though your family dynamics
are changing, your love for them and your commitment to their happiness
has not. If possible, both of you should be communicating throughout this
talk, or at least during this portion of it, so that your kids feel the
love and support of both of their parents.
Let Them Process
Remember, this is a lot for your kids to handle. They may not have anything
to say right away, and that’s okay. Some children, especially older
kids or teenagers, might need some time to process all of this information
before they have any sort of response for you. Allow them that time, but
also remind them that you are here for them whenever they are ready to
talk. For younger children, you might need to help them process this news
in another way. Try encouraging them to draw a picture to express their
feelings or take them out for some quality time where they may feel more
able to share their thoughts. Most importantly, understand that everyone
processes this news differently. You know your kids, so use your own judgement
and focus on being for them in whatever way they need.
Contact the Law Office of Kathryn Marteeny
to discuss your divorce with our Houston divorce lawyers.